This birth story has got to end! Here goes...
The epidural. You guys. It is so wonderful. All your life as one born of the female sex you hear how childbirth is going to be the hardest thing you've ever done. All I can say is it was nothing like I thought it would be. That epidural made it so.much.easier.
But I'm not going to say that it's not like you don't know your body is doing something truly incredible. I went through times where my entire body would shake uncontrollably. I got nauseous and exhausted. I went through periods of struggle where my epidural would only work on one side or seem like it was wearing off. I would turn from one side to the other to try to get the epidural flowing to both my right and left sides. Tiff should probably have editing rights to this blog entry, because some of the details are getting fuzzy to me as that day wore into the next night. Night number two of no sleep.
It seems like there was a point late in the night when the anesthesiologist had to come back and adjust my epidural because it just wasn't working properly anymore, or at least I have a blurry memory of this. I remember hanging onto the side rail of the bed and trying to cope. But these intervals of pain and struggle cycled around only occasionally, and I was for the most part just sick with hunger and exhausted. I remember everyone in the room absolutely freezing; Neal had his hoodie pulled over his head, Tiff had to dig into my overnight bag for something to borrow, and at one point I remember urging my mom to go find some socks in my bag for herself. My awareness that the room was freezing was only by observation of everyone around me, which was so strange. I could see how cold everyone was, while I was laying there so hot as my body worked steadily.
Neal's parents arrived sometime that late afternoon/early evening to join my family in the delivery room with us while we all waited. By that time, Ty had to leave to go perform in the final production of a Shakespeare play he was in all that summer, but he would be back to the hospital around midnight, around the time when my other brother Parker and his wife Alyssa would arrive.
When everyone went down into the hospital atrium to order take-out for dinner, they ran into our friends Alyce & Ryan and Kim & James who showed up. The girls came up to my room, and when we cleared it as a good time for the husbands to come in and see Neal too, the room just became a party. Kim, Alyce, and I had had a pedicure date planned for the week of Augy's due date so I could have pretty toes for the big occasion, but since all this happened a week early, they brought nail polish to the hospital in case I needed it. I love those girls, who I affectionately refer to as "my blonde friends."
At this point in the night, I think our room was up to 11 family and friends. There were times when I obviously needed a break and had to be alone and rest, but I could hear my Dad holding court like he does in that tiny side room, with roars of laughter. It goes without saying that not everyone wants 11 people in the room when they're in labor, but it was my style. I wanted nothing more than to be surrounded by my people in that sacred space and rite of passage. Again, remember the epidural. This was not a dramatic Hollywood birth. I was pretty much just laying there all day and all night, and having my people around me to help pass the time turned the day into something so special.
As the night settled in, it became obvious that the little mister would not be born until the following morning. People shuffled around the midnight hour making decisions. My in-laws left to go sleep at our apartment, our friends agreed to head home until the following morning, and Ty decided to come back to the hospital after his show and sleep there with all of my family until go time. Parker and Alyssa arrived bringing a fresh energy, but the hours right before and after midnight started to somehow stretch out longer and slower. I remember laying there watching that big clock, counting the time until the residents would come check me again, hoping for that magic number 10.
My mom never once left my side. Forever I will remember her holding my hand in one of hers and stroking my hair back with her other hand. For hours. While I slept, while I woke. There's a sacred space in my mind also for the memory of the part of that late night when it was just me, Neal, my Mom, my Dad, Tiff, Ty, Parker, and Alyssa in that little room and everyone was sprawled around asleep, waiting for the little mister. The room was silent except for his heartbeat monitor, and while I tried to sleep in the darkness I was pinprick aware that that room held my entire world, sleeping. Waiting. Welcoming.
I will always remember how she came and sat on the edge of the bed, pulled my legs across her lap to rest on her thighs, and just started talking like we were meeting for coffee. I waited for her to move around to the end of the bed, turn on florescent lights, and convert the room and herself into some sterile operating environment, but it never happened. I remember the room being dim and cozy, and her just sitting there on the side of the bed gently instructing my support team and talking to everyone so personably. We might as well have been at home in a log cabin 100 years ago.
On my first push, I remember Dr. Walker pulling back in surprise and saying, "Girl! You are strong!" and we all laughed. Sometimes she told me to push, and sometimes I told her I was ready to push. Either way, it was an incredible time. I don't remember feeling any pain, except for pain in my head from holding my breath and pushing so hard. Tiff was on my left, my Mom was on my right, and Neal was down by Dr. Walker, everyone intently counting to 10 for the pushes and cheering me on. Tiff shoved ice chips into my mouth between every push, because I was beyond thirsty from exertion.
I found out later that I pushed for 45 minutes, and I would say it maybe felt like about half that. All I know is it wasn't long before people were saying, "I see his head!" "I see his hair!" and amazing things like that. Then Dr. Walker was giving Neal instructions to put his hands right beneath hers so he could deliver our baby. I asked Neal to make eye contact with me while I went into that last push. He looked into my eyes and said, "When I cut the cord, we'll say his name out loud together." Then there was that feeling, the most incredible feeling of my entire life, of my baby's entire body slipping out of mine.
He cried immediately; the sound cut me to the core and changed my world. Then they were handing him up to me. I can still see my first view of him in my mind's eye; he was lifted up over my left side and I saw his face and chubby little pink body coming towards me. As soon as he was placed onto me, he looked up into my face and then snuggled right into my neck. I wrapped my arms around him and just cried.
August (Augy) Wells Anderson, born July 20th at 4:32am, 8lbs 10oz, 21 in.
And that's my baby's birth story.